The annual PILC meeting brings together members from IAPMO, ASPE, PMI, ICC, PHCC, AWE, ASA, the UA, select trade media and others.

PILC Meeting Discusses Industry Advocacy

June 1, 2022
This year’s in-person PILC meeting offered plenty of industry fodder, which included advocacy initiatives and updates on government relations.

SAN ANTONIO, TX —Last month, the Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition (PILC) gathered for its annual meeting for industry leaders to listen, learn and share in regard to defining the role of the plumbing industry. Members from the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), International Code Council (ICC), Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC), Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), American Supply Association (ASA), United Association (UA), select trade media and others, offered insights and voices from their particular constituency.


During the meeting—co-convened this year with the Emerging Water Technology Symposium [see pg. 3 – Ed.] — government relations took center stage, especially on the advocacy front. One such topic that grabbed the headlines there was the Infrastructure Package and the intricacies that are attached to it. According to PMI CEO/Executive Director, Kerry Stackpole, PMI remains a strong supporter of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law in November 2021 to address decades of under-investment in the nation’s infrastructure system. Alongside major investments in transportation, electric vehicles, internet, and roads, the legislation earmarks $55 billion for clean water and water infrastructure projects. It represents some of the most significant investments from the federal government in the water sector in decades.

“PMI continues to advance policies that strengthen plumbing manufacturers and the American economy at the federal level. As Congress works to address current issues such as rising inflation, China competition issues and the war in Ukraine, PMI remains actively engaged with lawmakers,” says Stackpole.

Infrastructure Package Nuggets

  • Much of the funding will be coming through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). These programs are federal-state partnerships that provide communities with low-cost financing for water infrastructure projects and each program will receive $11.7 billion over five years. A good portion of the funding being distributed come from the state revolving funds. Each state will have a priority list of projects up for SRF funding
  • It is estimated that there are between 6 million to 10 million lead service lines in the United States. Much of the drinking water infrastructure in older U.S. cities was built before 1950. The new infrastructure law also includes $15 billion to support lead removal projects, with $3 billion being distributed to states and cities in 2022. Forty-nine percent of the state revolving funds must be provided to disadvantaged communities. PMI strongly supported this funding, and not placing matching or cost-share requirements on the states or local governments. Money can go toward direct removal of lead pipes, as well as efforts like identification of lead pipes, as well as the planning and design of new projects.
  • While this funding is a good start, industry experts estimate the actual cost of fully replacing all lead pipes in the U.S. could be $60 billion. Additional investments will be needed from the federal government and state authorities.
  • PMI also supports full funding for the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. Within WIIN funding is the Voluntary Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care Drinking Water grant program for states territories, and tribes to test for lead in schools and childcare facilities.

The Future of NIST

During the PILC meeting, guest speaker, Natascha Milesi-Ferretti of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), discussed the organization’s efforts on plumbing research. Not only a benefit to our industry but to all U.S. citizens, encouraging NIST to reopen its research efforts is critical. NIST had a plumbing tower and a plumbing research office that was ultimately disbanded in the late 70s, and early 80s, and since then, there has been little to no federal effort and research on plumbing systems in the United States.

“However, after many years, with countless visits to NIST, supporting the research efforts, having legislation, and having Congressional hearings with the head of NIST testifying on Capitol Hill, it is exciting that this research is now moving forward once again at NIST,” says Dain Hansen, Executive Vice President, Government Relations, The IAPMO Group.

Today, NIST’s research includes understanding the effects of water heater temperature and water use patterns on occurrence and concentration of opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens (OPPPs) in an existing plumbing system to identify strategies to reduce growth and public health impacts

As members of the House and Senate enter a conference process to reconcile differences between the House- passed America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521) and the Senate-passed United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), PMI is urging conferees to include the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the Future Act. It is included in the America COMPETES Act.

According to PMI’s Stackpole, the bill reauthorizes NIST for five years, and it establishes innovative programs to support U.S. global competitiveness and makes crucial investments including funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, cybersecurity vulnerability research initiatives, and premise plumbing research to promote new and innovative technologies that can improve the safety and water efficiency of our plumbing systems in buildings, hospitals, and homes.

“PMI, its members, and key stakeholders were successful in including the NIST Plumbing Research Act into the NIST for the Future Act, which would re- establish a federal laboratory to conduct research of premise plumbing and to promote new and innovative technologies that can improve the safety, water efficiency and reliability of our plumbing systems. NIST is a critical agency that supports U.S. competitiveness through precision measurement research, partnership with industry, facilitating and developing standards, and support for U.S. manufacturing,” says Stackpole.

Other Advocacy Initiatives

Get the Lead Out of Assisted Housing Act (S. 4047) – This bill recently introduced in the Senate directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to update its standards to include inspecting for lead in service lines and lead in plumbing, creates a Healthy Homes Lead in Drinking Water Grant Pilot Program to provide grants to states and local governments to be used to create a lead service line inventory, testing for lead in the drinking water at childcare centers and schools, and testing for lead at public facilities like public water fountains and remediation. In addition, it requires notification of tenants of the level of lead in drinking water found and must offer interim controls, such as the installation of water filters known to remove lead.

Say it isn’t so! Behind the scenes, plumbers will tell you that “flushable wipes” are a solid revenue generator for business. The Non-Flushable Wipes Legislation—WIPPES Act, a bill introduced by senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Representatives Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and McLain (R-Mich.), sets federal standards for the labeling of non-flushable products. The WIPPES Act directs the Federal Trade Commission, in consultation with the EPA, to issue regulations on “Do Not Flush” labeling requirements for the covered products defined in the bill, which includes baby wipes, household wipes, disinfecting wipes, or personal care wipes.

The Healthy H20 Act, sponsored by Senator Baldwin (D-Wis.), creates a USDA grant program to help at-rick households and licensed childcare facilities improve their drinking water. The grant can be used to cover costs associated with conducting a water quality test, purchasing and installing third-party certified point-of-use or point-of-entry water filtration systems that remove or reduce health-based contaminants, and maintaining a filtration system.

The WASH Sector Development Act, introduced by senators Wyden (D-Ore.), Merkley (D-Ore.) and Heinrich (D-N.M.), establishes a Water and Sanitation Needs Working Group to more accurately survey and report households in the U.S. that do not have complete access to services. It also requires the EPA to report on the cost estimate for capital improvements needed to ensure that all households in the U.S. have access to reliable drinking water and adequate sanitation, with cost estimates aggregated by Congressional district.

The Slow Pace of Government

“When working with the federal government, one must understand that it will be an inherently slow process,” says Hansen. “Laws are not changed overnight, regulations cannot be reversed quickly, and policies are rarely overturned promptly. Understating these realities, we will ultimately be able to know that the work we are conducting day in and day out will ultimately determine the path and ultimate outcome we want in the months and years to come.”

Ultimately, when the advocacy pays off through hard work and determination, there is a sense of deep gratification, and knowing it was done for the right reasons, makes it much more satisfying. “We are literally changing and improving people's lives through some of the work we conduct and policy victories we achieve,” says Hansen. “Working on major research initiatives, collaborating with governments on critical WASH funding, or by identifying national policies that can be modified to lay the path to make buildings safer and more efficient, expanding access to the basic right of clean, safe drinking water, dignified sanitation, are all the fundamental tenants for the work to which we engage.”

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Contractor, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations